New Egypt girls team gearing up for upcoming state tournament
BY MIKE WHITE
PLUMSTED — The New Egypt High School field hockey team has cruised its way through the first two-thirds of the 2004 campaign. Sporting a record of 9-0-1, which includes winning its third consecutive Burlington County Athletic League title, the Lady Warriors are searching for ways to prepare for the state tournament.
In attempt to bring out the best in her players, New Egypt coach Patti Nicholson scheduled four very tough games at the end of the month. New Egypt is scheduled to square off against Moorestown, Collingswood, Eastern and Bishop Eustace, all in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Nicholson couldn’t think of a better way to prepare for the rigors of the state tournament.
“If you want the quality of your program to continue to rise, then you need to play the best teams out there,” Nicholson said. “I purposely scheduled these teams for the end of the season so that we would be prepared for the states. We don’t have a league tournament at the end of the year, so I needed to schedule a few tough games to get us ready.”
Indeed, Nicholson is serious about capturing a state title. Last year, the Lady Warriors were one win away from claiming its first-ever state championship. New Egypt fell to Pingry, 2-1, in the finals. Nicholson is doing everything in her power to help New Egypt to avoid falling one victory shy this year.
“I can’t think of a better way to prepare,” Nicholson said. “Our girls will be going up against some of the top players in the state. We want to push them with the hopes that when we get to that big game they will feel comfortable squaring off against talent like that.”
Eastern High School, which is undefeated in the last five seasons, has won five consecutive state titles, Nicholson said. They boast a number of top players.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain in playing these teams,” Nicholson said. “It’s only going to make us better.”
New Egypt improved to 9-0-1 with a 6-0 shutout victory over Florence last Friday. With an 8-0 mark in league play, New Egypt met little resistance in winning its third straight title.
The Lady Warriors toughest opponent thus far came against nonconference opponent Shore Regional. One of the top teams in the Shore Conference, Shore held a 3-2 cushion late in the game.
But the 11th hour heroics of Meg Scherholz, who scored the game-tying goal with 17 seconds remaining in regulation, knotted the final at 3-3.
Scherholz stuffed a shot past the Shore goalie after a rebound bounced out in front of the net.
“There was a penalty corner and we got a shot off, and Meg was there to jam home the tying goal,” Nicholson said. “It was a pretty exciting game. The Shore Conference has a number of solid teams in it. It is always recognized as one of the best conferences in the state. We were happy with the way we were able to hang in and fight back to get the tie.”
Junior Brittany Horner leads the Lady Warriors’ offense with 10 goals and one assist. Junior Shannon Houston has eight goals and seven assists, while Scherholz has chipped in with four goals and one assist. Sara Messinger has five goals and Alyssa Worbetz has four. Junior Lisa Malloy has scored five goals.
“We have a lot of different players scoring goals,” Nicholson said. “It’s tough for a team to come in and mark just one or two players. We have others that are capable of putting it in the cage.”
Nicholson cited the fine defensive play of Ashley Hamilton, Brittany Kennedy, and senior goalies Nicole Mich and Kelle Search.
“Our defense has been great all season,” Nicholson said. “We’ve done a good job of limiting scoring opportunities.”
Sophomores Lindsay Rajeski and Margaret Ecke have impressed Nicholson with poise and aggressiveness.
“They have stepped up on a number of different occasions,” Nicholson said. “For being only sophomores, both have displayed a lot of confidence and savvy.”